The Alliance for Green Evolution in Africa (Agra) has challenged agro-dealers in the country to consider providing extension services apart from just supplying farmers with farm inputs.
This was said after observing that most farmers are lacking proper farming advice, leading to low output.
Agra is of the view that private sector players need to complement the public extension system, which is overstretched.
In an interview, Agra Associate Programmes Officer McLoud Kayira said the organisation has embarked on a capacity building programme of about 209 hubs and retail agro-dealers in 11 districts of the country on provision of extension services to farmers.
Kayira added that each targeted agro-dealer has employed a private extension worker and, this far, they have managed to reach out to more than 100,000 individual farmers.
“We realise that most areas do not have extension workers and this is affecting farmers in such a way that they fail to properly utilise farm inputs, hence we are calling upon the private sector to come in and assist farmers,” he said.
Agra is implementing the initiative in partnership with African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnerships.
On his part, Chikwendeni General Dealers Private Extension Officer Kelvin Phiri said farmers were facing myriad challenges and the initiative to employ private extension workers would go a long way in ensuring quality and bumper harvest.
“We have managed to mobilise farmers in rural areas to teach them new farming techniques,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Loveness Kanyinji from Makhosikazi Village, which is under Mbawa Extension Planning Area in Mzimba District, said women farmers have been empowered through the initiative as they are also able to get loans from agro dealers which, in turn, improves their farming.
Agra started its operations in Malawi in 2006 and its main focus is on improving seed and market development.